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Archive for the ‘death’ Category

For far too many reasons; some I understand, some I do not…  I am not a Holiday person.

I have great memories of Holidays spent with cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Mother, Dad, a brother, sharing food and laughter and traditions that were so much a part of who we were, who are family was.

But now, Mother and Dad are gone, my brother and I most of the time, do not speak, most of those Aunts and Uncles are long gone, and many of those cousins with whom I would play capture the flag in a pitch-black basement and with whom I would share hugs and laughter, would rather not share any space with me, because I’m gay and they are “Christian” and in their hearts and minds, the two do not mix.

And so, I am left with no family tradition, for basically, there is no “family” with which to share it. There are moments when the loss of these things overwhelms me (watching It’s a Wonderful Life, singing Silent Night, etc.) and I find myself wiping tears away and wondering what we all wonder when things and people are lost from our lives. How did things get so crazy? Why is family not family anymore? How do you spend half of your life with these people, and then not see them or speak to them for the other half of your life?

And then I understand: These feelings? This is just life.  I know I could have never become this grown-up person I am had I not left the confines of that small town and broke the hold my conservative family had on me. We don’t share the same values, we don’t value the same lives, we don’t agree on politics, we don’t really agree on much of anything. I’ve learned to be grateful for the memories, and for those people who helped me grow and loved me as best they could.

For many, myself included, the Holidays are memories of simpler times – not always better times, but certainly simpler times. From what I see, there’s way too much pressure on making the holidays perfect – perfect decorations, perfect food, perfect gifts, perfect, perfect, perfect.

None of us are perfect, no holiday will ever be, or should ever have to be, perfect.  Susan and I love our time with the kids and the grand kids. Our beautiful tree sits in the corner and puts a magical glow over the living room, but perfect would never even enter the conversation. We take the holidays one day at a time and enjoy whatever that day brings us. Just being with her, well that’s all the holiday I need in my life.

Embrace whatever you must to get you through these weeks. If you watch the movies and listen to the music, let yourself go to those places that make you cry. It proves that you’re human, it proves that you’ve grown and become stronger.  It shows that you’ve made a life of your own, but you also remember from where you came.

Say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or just smile and say nothing. There are no rules to follow for getting through the emotions and memories that always find their way to your heart.

And as you go into 2017, remember to sprinkle kindness wherever and whenever you can. The world is going to need kindness.  Bigly…

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Susan and I went to a funeral yesterday. It’s not something one looks forward to, but a sweet friend had lost her Father, and we wanted to be there to lend our support and love for our friend and her family.

Our friends father (Bill) was a very sweet man. We didn’t’ meet him until the rages of Alzheimer’s had taken over his body and his mind; and yet his sweetness shown through.

I had an inkling this funeral was going to be different when we arrived at the church and there were white chairs set up outside. They were placed on a hillside with beautiful green grass surrounded by trees and flowers with a view of the San Diego Bay that was simply breath-taking. I’d never been to an outside funeral, but after today, I can’t imagine any other way of honoring a loved one.

From those who spoke, I soon understood this was a man who was loving and was loved his entire life. His wife, his children, his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Love, love, love. He loved being outside, loved camping, loved sunsets, loved ice cream and coffee, and loved being the family “tickle monster.”

One of his daughters started to speak about his courage and how he emphasized to her the importance of being still, and it was in that moment I found my mind began to wonder.

I began to think of the death of my parents. My dad in 2010 and Mother in 2012.  I thought of the lessons they had taught me, and what it is I still miss about them.  Some days the image of them is so clear I swear they are walking right beside me. Other days, I don’t feel them at all.  It’s those moments when I am “being still” that I feel them most of all. When I have my tea in the afternoon, sitting quietly on my patio watching the birds, sitting by the San Diego Bay knowing how much my parents loved to sit in the same spot some 30 years ago.  Dad’s ashes are scattered in this Bay so that every US Navy ship that goes in and out of San Diego has to pass over him.

The thing is, I never understood my parents – ever. I thought of this today as Bill’s children and grandchildren were speaking of him so lovingly.  I never understood some of my parent’s decisions, their beliefs, their grudges, their never wanting to talk of anything.  So many things were left unsaid, unsettled, unknown. I love them, I just wish…

I left this funeral with the understanding that life is most certainly meant to be lived. It’s meant to be shared with those who love you unconditionally. You’re meant to be still, to be tickled. You’re meant to watch the sunset, and eat ice cream and drink coffee. You’re meant to laugh and love and share your thoughts and dreams and desires .You’re meant to make memories that will carry on long after you’ve gone. This is what your life is supposed to be.

We walked away from the service on that beautiful hill to the Reception Hall where an ice cream social in honor of Bill awaited us.  Ice Cream, every topping you could think of, whipped cream, cherries, nuts, cookies and coffee. For the first time ever, I left a funeral feeling upbeat and hopeful.

As a side note – the pastor who spoke at the funeral had a voice that simply drew me in. She was kind and compassionate, and spoke in a way that wasn’t condescending or judgmental.  As the pastor was speaking, I leaned over to Susan and said: “If anyone could get me back to church, I think it might be her,”  And it’s been many years since I’ve spent any amount of time in a church.

Bill must have been smiling knowing that I had been still and was listening.

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I was roaming the aisles of our local Barnes and Noble yesterday afternoon and I came across this book by John Izzo titled: “The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die.”

I pulled the book off the shelf and started leafing through it. Leafing led to reading snippets, and the reading of snippets led to sitting on a chair reading word for word taking notes.

Maybe because I’m going to be 63 this year and I know there is more of my life behind me than in front of me – I feel the need to live my life to the fullest and to be the best person I know how to be.

Here are the Five Secrets Mr. Izzo believes we must discover before we die.

  1. Be True To Yourself
  2. Leave No Regrets
  3. Become Love
  4. Live The Moment
  5. Give More Than You Take

I was only confused by #3 – Become Love.  I wasn’t sure what that meant – and then I read this:  “life is love, and if you miss love, you miss life.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

It’s pretty clear to me that the only thing that matters when you get to the end of your life is love.  From the things that I’ve read, and the things I’ve experienced, people who are dying don’t surround themselves with piles of cash and bank statements on their deathbed; they surround themselves with photos of loved ones, with photos of vacations that were filled with love and happiness; and the only thing they spoke of was the love they gave and the love they received throughout their lives.

They also speak of regrets and what-ifs and I should haves – which covers all of the things Mr. Izzo says we should discover before we die.

The Be True To Yourself is the hardest for me.  I try; but there are times when I find myself defending who I am and what I believe way more than I feel I should have to. I don’t understand why it matters so much to so many what I believe.

I don’t struggle with my beliefs – I struggle with those who insist I’m wrong. And it’s not so much a struggle as it is me not understanding why we just can’t let people be. So we believe different things – does this mean we are no longer human beings? Does it mean we no longer love our fellow man?  Does it mean we no longer treat each other with kindness and respect? Does this mean you are no longer my friend? I don’t understand believing in something that makes you separate from others, when the whole purpose of life is to love…  These – these are my struggles…

Read over the Five Secrets again and think of your life as you’re reading. How are you doing? Have you discovered the secrets?

Memorial Park

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Ready or not – another year looms in front of us – which also means another year is behind us.

The question is – what will you do with this New Year – this 2015?

I am not a New Year’s resolution sort of gal. I have found that my resolutions – as great as they may sound – are too far-reaching – and in the end I am more disappointed with myself for falling short – once again – of the demands I have placed on myself.

There are no resolutions this year. No lose weight, no write a blog a day – no take a picture a day – none of that has even crossed my mind.

There are only the promises I have made to myself to be a better person. I can be kinder, I can be more loving, I can be more understanding, I can be less judgmental, I can be me.  A better version of me – but me.

I spent a portion of yesterday (New Year’s Eve) afternoon at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery.  There was a woman and her little daughter, both wrapped in blankets, sitting in lawn chairs beside the grave of a fallen solider. The grave was new – so this woman’s loss was new – our nation’s loss was new.

My heart ached for her loss – for her pain – for her suffering. It was in that moment that I realized I needed to live my best life, and it was in that moment that I made those promises to myself to be kinder, to be more loving, more understanding.

People are suffering every single day. They survive things I can only imagine. They beg for food – for money – for clothes. They live in boxes. People face Cancer, Alzheimer’s. They die in War…

I know I won’t be perfect every single day, I know I will make mistakes. Still – I’m going to be a better me.

How about you?

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For the past 2 days I have thought of little other than the fires that are burning to the North and East of my home here in San Diego County. It’s been unusually hot in San Diego County – over 100 – and windy. The sort of weather we expect in September or October – certainly not in the middle of May. And yet – here it is.

Susan and I are safe – We have electric – We have the internet – We even have a portable Air Conditioner that keeps us quite comfortable. We have food and water and a bed to sleep in. Our children and grandchildren are safe – but  others are not so fortunate.  My heart breaks to watch the devastation and see homes going up in flames. I feel helpless and without a sense of stability. There is this sense that all is not safe in our world.

Southern California is dry – I mean – 100 year drought dry.  The canyons that surround our home are filled with things that would probably ignite if someone just has the thought of a burning match.  Add to that the signs that tell me there could be unexploded weapons buried there – and you have the formula to keep me awake at night when fires are burning.

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I’ve also been thinking the past 2 days about the people in the world who live with the threat of fire and bombs and gunfire and death every day of their lives.  I can’t imagine how their lives must be. In certain parts of the world – this is their life – this is what they know. There fears are mostly a reality, and my fears seem minuscule compared to what they face.

But, the thing is – these are my fears, and this is my home – mine and Susan’s. I understand that most of our things can be replaced. Still, I love where I live and my neighbors could never be replaced. I’ve never lived anywhere where I have been so loved, so cared for and accepted for exactly who I am. Susan and I are safe here; and that means more than you could ever know.

Everyone wants and needs to feel safe in their home. Safe from abuse, safe from violence, safe from prejudice, safe from harm, safe from a world that sometimes chooses to belittle and judge.  We all deserve such a life, such a home, such a refuge. We are blessed with such a place.

Now – if I could just do something about those unexploded weapons that are scattered all over this place I call home…

Keep San Diego County in your thoughts and your prayers.  We need all the goodness we can get…

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Lots of “stuff” running through my mind this morning – you know what I’m talking about…  Nothing in particular, just a whole bunch of jumbled up thoughts that didn’t seem to have comas separating them.

I decided to take myself to my favorite spot by the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla to just clear my head, and place some comas in the thoughts that were running amok in my head.

On the drive over to La Jolla, I was listening to my Frank Sinatra station and there was Peggy Lee singing:   ♫ “Is that all there is, Is that all there is? If that’s all there is my friend, then let’s keep dancing – let’s break out the booze and have a ball, if that’s all there is…” ♫

Of course my mind went there… Now, Theresa Caputo – The Long Island Medium – tells me every week on her show  that this most certainly is not all there is, and the noises and voices that happen in my house tell me that this most certainly is not all there is, and my Christian upbringing tells me that this is most certainly not all there is – but still – my mind went there as I was singing along with Peggy Lee.

What is this really is all there is.  What then?  What have I done with my life?

Once I had parked the car, my camera and I went for a long walk. We saw birds and flowers and seals. We listened to the ocean and seagulls and the wind as it hit me in the face. I put my camera in the car – grabbed my lawn chair – and I sat on one of the cliffs by the water, and I simply listened to what the Universe was telling me.

I’m going to be 62 years old this year. I haven’t always lived a life that was good and honest, and I haven’t always been the best person I could have been. When I look at my life now and know that I have more years behind me than I do in front of me, I think about things in an entirely different way.

What’s done is done. I can’t change anything, and honestly, I’m not sure that I would. Every decision I made, every mistake I made, every turn in the road – it’s brought me to where I am right now and made me the person I am right now.

And right now – I’m a happy girl. I have the love of a wonderful woman who makes me happier than I ever imagined I could or would be. I have friends that love me unconditionally and make me feel special, cherished and cared for. My brother and I have contact with one another – it’s not constant – but you know what – it’s contact – and I’ll take that over no contact at all. My ex-husband and I are friends – as we have always been. My biological family who disowned me – well – they still disown me – and that’s okay. It’s okay because my family, the biological ones who have stood by me,  and my friends who surround me, they love me big time!

I try to live a life now that is filled with love, peace, joy and happiness. I try and be there for my family and friends, and I try to make things as easy as possible. I don’t like drama – I don’t like conflict. I love my friends, my family, and my Susan more than they could ever know.

So Peggy Lee – If this is all there is – I’ll consider myself lucky and blessed to have had so very much…

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Those of you expecting a celebration sort of post from me about the death of the “God Hates Fags” Fred Phelps – will be disappointed.

Perhaps it’s because I spent so many years being angry and running from my lesbian self that I just can’t muster up any ill-will for his death. Also, those of us who have lost our Fathers – no matter what sort of man they may have been – we still grieve. Fred Phelps leaves children and grandchildren to clean up his mess – and this – many of us can also understand.

He was an angry, hateful man, who spent his entire life not knowing what peace and happiness was.  I don’t know what happened in his life that filled him with so much hate – but I find myself feeling sorry that he never got to experience pure joy. It’s sad to me that his life was built on the hatred he had for people he didn’t even know.

The thing is – I don’t believe he planned on his hatred uniting so many, and bringing more love and understanding and acceptance of those “fags” that he hated so very much. In some sick way – I feel like I need to thank him.

As far as his resting in peace – I believe he has a whole lot of ‘splaining to do before he finds any sort of peace – no matter where his soul has gone.

Live your life – celebrate who you are – be happy – feel joy – show love…

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